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What is Groupware in Distributed System?

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  • Last Updated : 30 Jun, 2022
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Pre requisite: What is Distributed System?

Distributed System is a collection of autonomous computer systems that are physically separated but are connected by a centralized computer network that is equipped with distributed system software. One of the advantages of a distributed system is information sharing. A distributed system can be used efficiently when information is generated by one of the users and shared by the users working at other nodes of the system. This facility may be useful in many ways. 

The use of distributed computing systems by a group of users to work cooperatively is known as computer-supported cooperative working (CSCW), or groupware. Groupware applications are primarily based on the sharing of data objects between programs running on different nodes of a distributed computer system. Groupware is an emerging technology that holds major promise for software developers.

It consists of computer programs where people work on common project but are separated geographically. They share the interface for communication and it is done with the help of groupware. alternative name of groupware is collaboration software. It consist of remotely accessible storage systems so that data files can be archived.

Classification: 

Groupware can be classified based on when and where the participants are collaborating and the functionalities they need for their work.

1. By time-space matrix: 

  • ” When ” classification: When the participators are working at the same time or not. 
  • “Where” classification: Where the participators are working at the same place or not

Common axes for time-based classification are:

  • Synchronous 
  • Asynchronous

For place classification, they are:

  • Co-located 
  • Remotely located

Synchronous groupware are applications that allow individuals located at different locations in real-time. Coordination and sharing the resources is the main feature. An example is a telephonic conversation where they share audio channels. If they are co-located it will be like a face-to-face conversation in real-time.

Asynchronous collaboration happens when there is a replica of the data system with reading and writing data access. Users can execute all the updates concurrently. Collaborative writing,, file sharing systems, and email are examples.

2. By functionality: Cooperative work involves 

  • Participators who are working
  • Artifacts which they work

There will be direct communication between participants, mediated by computer systems. Examples of computer media include email and bulletin board, video environments, text messaging.  A common understanding is captured by meeting and decision support systems. meeting and decision system may have a meeting room, shared drawing interface, and argumentation tools. Applications and artifacts of the work will be shared among them. Control and feedback can be done by participants with the shared objects.

GroupWare Tools:

  • Groove
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Netscape Navigator
  • Net Meeting

Advantages:

  • Enhances user creativity: Different groups of people come up with the idea to foster creativity and improve the project that they collaborate upon
  • Facilitates communication: users can discuss and come to joint conclusions via messages or chat and solve the issue.
  • Visualize vision and goals: It enables the users to come up with a purpose.
  • Any time – any place interaction.
  • Open network and open client standards make it very efficient for use.

Disadvantages:

  • Cost factor: The purchase and maintenance of the groupware is a challenging task.
  • Reliability issue: Since it depends on the server, whenever there is internet issue or server is down, it becomes difficult to carry on the work. 
  • Dependence on the single vendor: Due to transportation, logistic, and security issues the overdependence on a single vendor is a common perception.
  • Network security with slow speed, reliability, and access problems is a major disadvantage.
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